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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Bill Silverman's Avatar
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    Poor Man's Brooks "Swallow" saddle (aka: butchered)

    Back in the stone ages when I first got into riding quality lightweights (1970), Brooks Swallow saddles could be had for next to nothing. I think I paid all of 15 bucks for the Swallow I installed on my PX-10. When that bike got stolen, the shop owner who sold me my Frejus (eventually also stolen) threw in the Swallow saddle from his bike as part of the deal.

    Consequently, when I starting looking at the reissue Swallows, I was astounded to see them retailing for +$300! (yes, I know Brooks is now offering a less expensive version with a steel armature)

    Searching the web uncovered a cult of saddle butchers who convert less expensive Brooks models into something closely resembling Swallows. I took my cue from these guys, bought a new B-17 on Ebay for about $60, and when I had some free time got around to trying my hand at butchering. I think the results are pretty darned good! This one's on my '77 Raleigh Professional I'm rebuilding. I have a brown B-17 narrow on the shelf, awaiting its operation.

    For all you "do-it-yourselfers" out there, this is a fun (& cheap) way to Swallow-ize a favorite vintage ride.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Poor Man's Brooks "Swallow" saddle (aka: butchered)-b-17-before.jpg   Poor Man's Brooks "Swallow" saddle (aka: butchered)-b-17-%22swallowized%22.jpg  
    Bill in Pasadena

  2. #2
    Old and Fixed, Moderator
    Reputation: Dave Hickey's Avatar
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    I've done a couple of them...,.Even after a few thousand miles, they show no sign of problems.. Our own "Roadfix" wrote one of the conversion articles
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
    waterproof*
    Reputation: Creakyknees's Avatar
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    Ok, so my B-17 rubs my inner thighs about where the material is cut away. Not chafing, more of a pressure against the muscle that can feel crampy when going hard.

    So if I butcher my B-17 this will help, yes?
    Any downsides reported? Shorts getting chafed etc?
    * not actually a Rock Star

  4. #4
    JP
    JP is offline
    Lizzie will ride free
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    Did you say '77 Raleigh Pro. A fine choice. So what did you use to cut it? I am so tempted.
    "Another shot of the 6th Street Bridge. I guess I'm feeling sentimental because word is they're going to tear it down and build a replacement." DrRoebuck

    http://subterraneanhomesickrandonneurblues.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Bill Silverman's Avatar
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    JP:

    I used a small-bladed (like a scalpel) X-Acto knife. Here's how I did it (look at the photos, too):

    After studying several downloads of the Swallow profile, I affixed thin strips of paper to the side of the saddle using Scotch double-stick tape, mapping out a "profile" of the cut line. When I was satisfied with the profile, I put lots of regular scotch tape on the paper bits to hold them all together and carefully pulled it off the saddle. I used some French curves to clean up the profile a bit on the paper, then made a tracing of it on a piece of chipboard (aka: heavy cardboard). Using paper clamps (visible in picture #1) I positioned the chipboard template onto the saddle's skirt and carefully starting cutting a shallow line into the leather, using the edge of the chipboard as a physical guide. I took my time making multiple cuts with the knife, making sure the blade stayed in the cut channel. In about 5 minutes I had made an extremely clean and accurate cut through the skirt. The template was placed on the other side and the process was repeated (with a lot less stress than side one). I finished up the job with a touch of black leather dye to the cut surface: it looked as good as the original edges.

    Because the job worked out so good I decided to leave well enough alone and didn't bother rounding off the back or front of the swallow-cut and didn't mess with trimming a bit off the nose of the saddle.

    I just read some previous posts about "swallowizing" B-17 saddles, and was amused at the many references to the smell of burning leather when power tools were used to do the trimming. The method I detailed avoids that problem entirely; I did the project in the house with my wife in the same room surfing on the computer. Zero complaints about any smell.
    Bill in Pasadena

  6. #6
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    Looks great!
    If you ever dismount off the back of your saddle a la "Quicksilver" I would suggest trimming the bottom rear corners of your saddle. Round them off maybe. I rounded mine off more than yours are, and I still tore a couple pairs of pants.
    Here's some pics of mine. The corners at the back have since been rounded more.








  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I bought a swift recently..........

    But wish I'd done this. Great result.

  8. #8
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    template?

    hi guys, any chance you can post the dimensions of the template you used to cut your saddles?

    many thanks,

    ae

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    C'mon, now. You've got to do it yourself. That's half of the fun!
    Bill in Pasadena

  10. #10
    A wheelist
    Reputation: Mike T.'s Avatar
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    The Swallow or a swallow-like trim-job is too much for me. I like the look of a bit more leather on mine. Here's my butchered (as we used to call 'em years ago) Brooks Pro and how to do it on my website -

    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding info - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder information and motivation.

    I'm not cranky; I just have a violent reaction to stupid people.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Nice work guys!

  12. #12
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    This thread was a great find. I will be "swallowizing" a Team Pro later this week and hope to see some good results. Thanks for all the posts.

  13. #13
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    I have a butchered ADGA on my 63 Raleigh Sport
    big pic - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3285/...73e8afb1_o.jpg


  14. #14
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    Thumbs up Swallow'ized Brooks B17 Champion Sprinter Titanium Limited Edition

    Chopped and butchered. I have a couple B17 Specials but this one on ebay right now is a rare example of a "Swallow" specification cut on the narrowest Brooks saddle ever made. This B17 Champion Sprinter titanium is from a limited edition run a couple years ago, #526 of 1925 (for the year it was first released) and the "Made in Great Britain" embossed leather panels were made into keychains and distributed to bike technician colleagues.

    The Swallow is "cutaway" by Brooks factory team and also has the additional bottom riveted metal piece to hold the leather. However, if you read around the forums of chopped and butchered Brooks, you'll find that the metal piece is not necessary, though I would imagine is extra piece of mind if you want the Swallow to last "forever". As the directions state, once you tension the saddle to the end of the tensioning bolt, you cannot tighten any more. Can the leather stretch that far? It must be at least 3" of leather stretch that the bolt can accommodate.

    Harris Cyclery's stock image of the $500 Swallow Titanium:



    I think the chopped B17 Sprinter saddle is not only a "poor mans" Swallow but actually exceeds the Swallow in form because the large-head hand-hammered copper rivets > steel rivets.

    On ebay, a Brooks B17 Champion Sprinter Titanium Limited Edition with "Swallow Specifications" ($380 retail):







    metrotuned single speed rider. 92510 Wheels of Steel.

  15. #15
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    MikeT that Brooks team Pro in beautiful. That Pict has inspired me to go and buy a brooks pro and do the cut job. Thanks

  16. #16
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    Brooks B17 Special Copper

    Here's another one, much more comfortable for us mortals that cannot sustain the narrowness of the Swallow or the "B17 Narrow" as pictured above, which felt like a handrail.


    Brooks B17 Special Copper
    metrotuned single speed rider. 92510 Wheels of Steel.

  17. #17
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    Exclamation Factory B17 regular model retails over $100 now

    Bill Silverman: The regular (small silver rivet heads machine) B17 sells for over $100 though! The special with the hand hammered copper heads is $170. Still worth every dollar, yes? Then you got to factor in how many hours for the chop and/or experimenting with messin' up a good saddle (you've seen plenty of chops that are done with inexperience and come out poor in appearance).

    Here's some "Chopped Brooks" saddle lovin' DONE RIGHT, PLATINUM SPEC, this one is a B17 Special with the gold hand hammered copper rivets, a super touch when matched to a Super Toughness Izumi or KMC 710-SL gold track chain:

    metrotuned single speed rider. 92510 Wheels of Steel.

  18. #18
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    Sweet bike!!

    I will be ODD MAN OUT, on the seat..

    I wanted a White Brooks, but I am a poor man, I went with this for $70 shipped to my door..




    And I put it on this


  19. #19
    Vintage cyclist
    Reputation: frpax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cehowardraleighGS
    And I put it on this

    1985 Raleigh Prestige... NIIIIICE

  20. #20
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    How did the white Taiwanese Brooks clone turn out?
    Has it lasted well?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveal View Post
    How did the white Taiwanese Brooks clone turn out?
    Has it lasted well?
    Perfect, dam right perfect!! Looks in finish are super good. I ride the Prestige a lot, it comfortable, and I am tempted to get a real white Brooks and compare! I have two Brooks on my two 79 Raleigh Competitions GS(s). they feel good, but they don't have the looks of this copy. This copy is on that sleek design.. And for $70 shipped to my door, I am more than a happy camper!!

    I have 88 Centurion Ironman Expert, and I got a 88 Centurion Ironman Master on the way. both with wth light gray ( I hate to say pink) and white. I am really thinking about putting the same white copy on both of them..

    Here is the Prestige again, and you can see, even the bike is happy with this seat..




    I am putting one on my Centurion Ironman Expert and the Master. Here is the Expert. Upgrades in bar tape is coming too. Might do wheels too. Dam, I can go on and on..


  22. #22
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    Is there any loss of support when cutting a B17? I'm a big rider and love my brooks and ride cyclocross and road. But being bigger (230+) I worry about increased sag with the cut B17.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by steveal View Post
    How did the white Taiwanese Brooks clone turn out?
    Has it lasted well?
    Like a charm.. In addition to be a poor man, I am a looks freak too. In other words, if it didn't look good, I wouldn't have touch it with a 10 foot pole.

    Here is recent pic, and you can zoom in on the seat. On another forum, the thread on copy brooks was that the rivets weren't flush, and will snag in your pants.. Ha, that's a good one. The quality of this seat, IMO, exceeds the $70 to-my-door that I paid for it..

    http://www.cehoward.net/preszoom788.jpg

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